I was tinkering with the ol' blog tonight, and I was asked if I wanted to add Amazon to my pages. Y'know, little ads in the sidebar that would be vaguely related to what I was writing about. And for a moment I actually considered it. But I thought, naaah. I have enough ads on my pages already, and unless my readership was to get a sudden boost overnight, I would not really get enough click-thrus to make it worth my while. And then I thought, naaaah a second time, because even though it's nice to get good deals, and even though Amazon has a LOT of those good deals, and even though I admire the spirit of entrepreneurship with which they were founded, I hold them and others of their ilk squarely responsible for the slow lingering death of the common bookshop. I love bookshops. Especially old ones that have been around since the time of Lloyd George or Teddy Roosevelt. Old ones with creaky stairs and ancient books and cobwebs and a musty smell that could be old books or maybe the owner. Because shops like that always fill me with quaint and romantic notions about reading poetry in a country churchyard or perhaps stowing away below decks on a steamship bound for darkest Africa a la Joseph Conrad. Shops like that are getting few and far between. Even big chains are feeling the pinch with Borders closing all its UK stores and its UK website in late 2009 and going into liquidation. The big boys in books are Barnes and Noble in the USA and Waterstone's in the UK. There's a Waterstone's in my High Street. There's probably one in yours too.
It makes more sense to me to purchase books from thrift and charity stores - often they are in pretty decent condition and - this is the main point - you're hopefully buying a book to read it, yes? So why worry about a couple of scuffs on the cover, if it's in otherwise good shape, what's the difference? Plus, if you buy it from a charity shop the money will be going to a worthwhile cause. I have recently picked up some good book bargains from some of the above stores, namely:
Piers Morgan - God Bless America. Subtitled as 'Misadventures Of A Big Mouth Brit' this is Piers' story of his experiences on America's Got Talent and Celebrity Apprentice and all the other experiences they led to. Even if you don't like Piers, this is bloody funny. Cats Protection Society again, brand new, £2.
Michael Moore - Stupid White Men. I just started reading this book the other night and it is searingly funny, but of course if you don't like Michael Moore or his politics then you are going to hate it. Paperback, pretty good nick, £1.
Nick Hornby - About A Boy. Loved the movie, love the book. Paperback, 50p.
These, I trust you'll agree, were some pretty stellar deals. The best thing to do is not to go into a bookshop or charity store looking for a specific book, but to let the book come to you. To call your name, if you will. This way you are not disappointed and you come across some real gems.Stick it to the big boys! Bring back the old time bookshops! And viva la Oxfam!